The new Star Apartments for the Skid Row Housing Trust transformed an existing one-story commercial building in downtown Los Angeles into a mixed-used complex with 102 apartments for formerly homeless individuals. The LEED for Homes Platinum development, located at 6th Street and Maple Avenue along the border of Skid Row, sets a new model for urbanism and increased density by adding new community spaces and residential levels above.


The six-story, 95,000 sf building expands upon the Skid Row Housing Trust’s model of providing permanent supportive housing within the downtown core by incorporating a new type of shared public space within the building. Star Apartments is organized around three principal spatial zones stacked one upon the other: a public health zone at street level; a second level for community and wellness programs; and four terraced floors of residences above.  The building includes an onsite medical clinic, a 15,000 square foot Health and Wellness Center, and the new headquarters of the LA County Department of Health Services’ (DHS) Housing for Health Division.


Not only is the integration of social services, community recreational facilities, and residential units a unique building program, but the project utilizes an innovative new construction methodology. Faced with a limited budget and tight schedule the design team determined that prefabricated modules lifted into place over the existing podium would help provide a higher quality of construction, meet tighter construction tolerances, accelerate construction time, and accomplish the project’s ambitious sustainability goals.  Star Apartments is the first mixed-use, multi-unit residential project for formerly homeless individuals employing this construction method in Los Angeles.

Photos: Iwan Baan

LOCATION / Los Angeles, California
TYPE / Affordable Housing, Social Services Counseling, Community Activities, Market-Rate Retail
SIZE / 95,000 sf
STATUS / Completed 2014
LEED STATUS / LEED for Homes Platinum
ROLE / Design Architect & Architect of Record
COST / $19.3 million
AWARDS / American Architecture Award Chicago Athenaeum, Museum of Architecture and Design, 2016; Mies Crown Hall America’s Prize (MCHAP) Finalist, 2016;  AIA, Los Angeles Residential Architecture Design Award, 2016; b AIA, Los Angeles Architecture Design Honor Award, 2015; U.S. Green Building Council Outstanding Affordable Housing Project, 2015;  AIA, California Council Architecture Design Honor Award, 2015; Los Angeles Business Council Architectural Award, 2012; AIA Next LA Design Award, 2012